Since the early days of government, the purpose has always remained the same. To eliminate the things that are standing in the way of a functioning society.
In other words, to reduce the all-consuming worry of Maslow’s bottom two tiers of needs, so that we can all climb to higher ground and live better lives.
When the Democratic Presidential candidate in 2020, Andrew Yang, talks about the major technological transformation that is happening, or any other subject, the response will very often end with “That’s why I want to put $1,000/month into everyone’s hands”.
During the CNN democratic debate on July 30, it even turned into a bit of a meme for some people on Twitter, where many claimed that Andrew Yang only had one talking point – despite his 100+ policy proposals on his website.
There is a very simple reason for his emphasis on a Universal Basic Income, and it probably won’t surprise you: Economics plays a major role in every aspect of your life, and if you, or your neighbor, is struggling to meet our basic needs, society around us will suffer.
This means that a Basic Income doesn’t just hit 2 problems with 1 stone, it hits a whole slew of them. Andrew Yang is attempting to tackle many problems at once, with this one proposal of a Freedom Dividend (UBI) of $1,000 per month for the entire adult population.
People who do not have their basic needs met, are typically not very good neighbors, citizens or builders of a better future. This should come as a surprise to no one, and regardless of certain politicians talking points, it is not the fault of those people if the system is not set up to deal with the entire bell curve, that people always tend fall on.
Those left behind in a system that was not built for them, are typically desperate. They will either be doing desperate things to get out of the situation they are in, or to try to forget their circumstance.
They will often express this desperation outwardly through crime, violence, generic hustling or an array of other things with a negative effect on society. It can also be expressed inwardly through escape hatches like drugs, or even videogames, to forget the pain for a short amount of time.
Regardless of which “solution” they choose, it is detrimental to society. Not just because of the direct effects, but because of all of the indirect consequences that we tend to forget, or are hard to quantify.
Many at the top of society are waking up to this and wants to give up slice of their current wealth, in order to bring society to a higher level, which will benefit every single person in one way or another.
This includes some of the mega rich, such as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates who are practically begging to pay more taxes. Mark Cuban who wants a more compassionate economy, to lift the bottom out of poverty in order to build a stronger and better capitalism. Or Mark Zuckerberg who advocates directly for a Universal Basic Income.
They all have the same goal in mind: A society with fewer people suffering, and more people thriving. Whether they want this to happen to cynically raise their own boat, or the boat of others, doesn’t really matter – this tide will actually lift all boats.
While the price tag of a Universal Basic Income may sound scary at first, you should be far more worried about the damaging effects of keeping people in poverty.
Desperate people in society maintain low standards of living for everyone (often by holding back society), cause social unrest and vote for extreme leaders and solutions.
Universal Basic Income is not just a simple and elegant solution to this problem, it’s also the next logical step on governments path to ensure the safety and security needs of Maslow’s Hierarchy. This will allow more people the freedom to frolic in self-actualization, and therefore more likely to be a net-benefit to society.
Until the day we decide to ensure the needs found in the two bottom tiers of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Utopia is nothing but a far fetched dream, while dystopia is looming around the corner.
When our basic needs are met, we are free to pursue the things we enjoy, and when we do the things we enjoy, we tend to leave a better world behind.